The Mueller report, while finding no collusion by Trump, did reinforce the narrative that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections to sow discord and disinformation, reinforcing the idea that Russia is an existential threat to the United States
PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay.
Well, apparently the Mueller report vindicates President Trump on the charge of collusion with the Russians in the 2016 elections. And of course Trump was extremely happy that he was vindicated. And there were journalists who were have been critiquing a lot of the Russia stuff who also felt vindicated, because they said there was no evidence of collusion. I personally couldn’t care less one way or the other, and I’m going to discuss that with our next guest, Gerald Horne.
Gerald teaches at the University of Houston. He’s the author of many books, including Storming the Heavens and The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism. Thanks for joining us, Gerald.
GERALD HORNE: Thank you for inviting me.
PAUL JAY: So my argument about this, because when I heard that Trump was apparently absolved of collusion by Mueller–and I say ‘apparently’ because no one’s actually seen, publicly seen, the Mueller report, so we don’t know what he actually did say–it didn’t matter to me in this sense, that if Trump colluded with Germany, if Trump had colluded with Canada, if they had somehow tried to influence the outcome of the American election–and certainly to some extent Trump did collude with Netanyahu, both Trump in the Israeli election and Netanyahu trying to influence the support for Trump here in the United States. And certainly people like Sheldon Adelson, who I don’t know if there would have been a Trump presidency without Sheldon Adelson, who is one of the largest funders of Netanyahu, Likud. And over the years he’s been supporting the most right-wing policies in Israel. He owns a newspaper in Israel. Without his $25 million there may never been a Trump presidency. Lots of countries interfere in each other’s elections. And of course the United States goes far further, in fact, even anointing someone who is the head of a National Assembly president of Venezuela, and organizing coups, and everyone knows all this history.
So I didn’t understand why anyone got so excited that somehow Trump was vindicated by Mueller, because the underlying assumption of what was wrong with the collusion argument wasn’t whether Trump colluded, or not it was that Russia is this existential enemy; that it’s not just another competing capitalist country–there’s many others–but that it’s somehow the adversary. And that underlying logic was not undercut by the Mueller report, because Mueller apparently–again, we haven’t seen the report–but we understand the Muller report confirms that there was Russian interference in the election, that it was an attack on American democracy. And that’s the underlying problem, that even if there was such interference in the U.S. elections, and I still don’t know that in the public domain such information exists, but that it matters. Gerald, what do you make of it?
GERALD HORNE: Well, I think that’s a fair assessment on your part. But I think that the critique, particularly of MSNBC, was well advised. That is to say that they help to raise their ratings by turning Trump into an agent of Moscow. I assume that they thought that they were flipping the script with regard to the Cold War; that is to say that the Liberals and the Democrats were hammered in the previous epoch supposedly for being in bed with Communists in Moscow, and now the idea was that they were going to show that it was actually the right wing and the Republicans that are, or were, in bed with Moscow. Supposedly this would chip away at the 63 million-strong Trump base. But apparently it has not. And also, interestingly enough, MSNBC ratings have been going down ever since Mr. Barr, the attorney general, issued his four-page summary of the Mueller report, which, by the way, has led to grumbling, apparently by some members of the Mueller team, who have been leaking like crazy to the New York Times and Washington Post saying that they’re disgruntled by this four-page summary. But it seems that the Mueller report will take a few days, if not a few weeks, before it’s released in toto.
PAUL JAY: Yeah. I mean, I agree with you. I’m saying ‘Mueller report’ because everybody says ‘Mueller report,’ but there’s no question–it’s spelled ‘MUEller’ report, but whatever. I think he calls himself MULLer. I agree. Rachel Maddow and the Democratic Party apparatchiks around Maddow, they became outright warmongers. I remember we actually ran a little clip of this, where Rachel Maddow was denouncing Russia because Russia supported the idea of U.S. troops getting out of South Korea, and making that into a whole Russian Trump plot. Maddow was as bad as any neoconservative ever was on Iraq–in fact, she essentially joined the neocons. And I’m not sure she ever–maybe she always was one, I don’t know. I mean, I agree with that critique completely. But the underlying issue of the critique of Maddow was this buying into Russia the existential enemy, which is the narrative of the military industrial complex and the traditional neocons. That’s what was wrong with Rachel. Again, the collusion thing one way or the other, to me, wasn’t significant. But yes, the Cold War, summoning up the demons of the Cold War, that was significant.
GERALD HORNE: Well, also, there is a further issue. Recall the 2012 election when Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee, said that Russia was the major threat, and he was pooh-poohed by President Obama, who said that the 1980s are calling, Mr. Romney, they want their foreign policy back. And perhaps the MSNBC hawks and liberals felt that they had to make amends for 2012. And in any case, as they say in the United States, the bottom line is their bottom line profited handsomely, apparently from the skyrocketing ratings that they received from focusing so incessantly on the so-called Russiagate scandal. But it seems also that it betrayed a lack of confidence that they could basically appeal to the 63 million-strong Trump base; that is to say, they were implicitly conceding that they wanted this external factor, the Special Counsel, to rescue them and to escort Mr. Trump from office in an orange jumpsuit. That has not happened. And so it seems that we’re left with the alternative of defeating Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
PAUL JAY: Yeah. We did a story with the headline “Deep Faith in the Deep State Gives Democrats a Setback.” Yeah, the confidence they put in the FBI, and especially Mueller, a guy who was a cleanup–Larry Wilkerson called him a cleanup man for the Republican Party for years. To put such faith in that, and not to think that you couldn’t build your ratings on going after the actual substantive policies that Trump was supporting, and promoting. First and foremost climate denial. But even his trade policies, to blow them up, the fact that these kinds of trade negotiations with China are not about raising American workers’ wages, they’re about things like protecting intellectual property rights to make money for American corporations. And we’ll end up with a complete betrayal of the American worker by the Trump administration. We can go on and on about what’s happening at Department of Justice. But instead of really focusing on the substantive issues, they put all their eggs in this Mueller basket. And it seems like it blew up on them. We’ll see.
GERALD HORNE: We shall see. And of course we need further investigation of the relationship between Mr. Mueller and Bob Barr, the attorney general. Their relationship apparently stretches back decades, which I find to be very curious. Mr. Trump, as you know, ever since Mr. Mueller was appointed 22 months ago, has suggested that Mr. Mueller is conflicted insofar as he apparently knocked on Mr. Trump’s door and asked for a job, and Mr. Trump said he turned him down, and that led to anger on the part of the Special Counsel. Mr. Trump lies so much it’s hard to see, hard to know if one should give that particular statement any credence. But in any case, there are so many angles with regard to the so-called Russiagate scandal that have not been explored by the mainstream media, particularly the anti-Trump mainstream media, speaking of the Washington Post and the New York Times, which themselves are conflicted, that leaves so many questions left unanswered as we speak.
PAUL JAY: OK. Thanks very much, Gerald.
GERALD HORNE: Thank you.
PAUL JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network